Posts Tagged ‘chicago sports’


by @anarchyroll

If you have watched ESPN for more than 30 seconds in the past year, you’ve likely seen at least two feature segments on Yasiel Puig.

Puig was a bonafide rookie phenom last year who gave the Los Angeles Dodgers the spark they needed to get into the playoffs. His equal parts high level talent and high level charisma made him and instant star and darling of sports fans and networks alike. Puig provided tremendous numbers and intagibles to help his team get over a slump that many speculated would lead the their manager (Don Mattingly) being fired. There was even a strong push for him to be name to the NL All Star Roster despite Puig starting the season in the minor leagues.

If ESPN portrayed Puig as the new face of Major League Baseball, then what is Jose Abreu this year who has better numbers than Puig had last year, this year, or both combined?

Whereas Puig plays for the number one baseball franchise in the second biggest media market in the country, Abreu plays for the number two baseball franchise in the number three media market. Chicago sports teams and their players have been getting the shaft from ESPN for as long as it has existed, Abreu is just the most recent egregious example.

In the pregame coverage for this year’s All Star Game, ESPN did a side by side comparison of Puig and Abreu’s numbers and even admitted that Abreu has proven to be the better player. Yet turn on Sportscenter, Around the Horn, and/or Pardon the Interruption and Abreu seemingly has a segment on something he did right, wrong, or outlandish carved into each show’s format.

Perhaps if Abreu made some more arrogant base running errors or came up with a crazy story of being snuck into the country (like Puig) he could get a little more national play. But I’m sure he and the White Sox will be content with him playing better than Puig consistently and thus paying him more than Puig.

When one ESPN home base is a two-hour drive from Yankee Stadium and the other is literally down the street from Dodger Stadium, I suppose it is hard to expect equal coverage for a player who plays hundreds or thousands of miles from each. Perhaps if ESPN put a home base in Chicago things could change, but that is an expensive endeavor. It’s not like ESPN is owned by a hundred billion dollar company or anything.

Somethings never change. The mindset of Illinois being a fly over state and therefore everything in it apparently is one of them. The Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls, Cubs, and White Sox are all franchises that make money, have large traveling fan bases, and routinely compete for and win championships (minus the Cubs of course). There is no reason what happens in Chicago sports shouldn’t routinely be the lead story on ESPN programming. One can point to population theory all they want but anything more thorough than a surface level glance at ESPN programming will show that a third tier sports story in New York, Boston, or LA trumps everything short of a Chicago franchise winning a championship. That is wrong and can’t end soon enough, though much like the Cubs chances of winning a World Series is likely more fantasy than reality.


by @anarchyroll

I’ll take hard work over born and bred talent any day of the week. More often than not, so will the city of Chicago. The only thing they love more than a good work ethic is a fun place to drink with minimal exposure to minorities, hence why the Chicago Cubs franchise makes so much money without winning in a century.

Joakim Noah is the embodiment of hustle and desire over talent and skill. Yes he has talent, but his craving to apply maximum sweat equity to his profession is what has made him a two time NCAA champion, two time NBA all star, and the unquestioned heart and soul of the Chicago Bulls franchise.

I have been a fan of Joakim Noah since the suit he wore on draft night. From there he won over the hearts and minds of both myself and the entire Chicago fan base by getting noticeably better every year of his pro career and by constantly hustling his ass off every single game regardless of time of season, home or away, regular season or playoff, nail biter or blowout. That is the kind of effort that Chicago demands of its superstar athletes. Or at least the ones who want to be considered local legends.

Derrick Rose is now perceived as being soft, fairly or unfairly, right or wrong. He has suffered legit injuries, it is in his method of recovery that a very large, very thick cloud on his integrity and grit has arisen. The only question regarding Noah is whether or not he’ll get ejected from a game for wearing his emotions on his sleeve so intensely.

With Rose habitually out of action due to injury, Luol Deng being traded, and the Bulls organization following protocol and refusing to make a trade at the deadline, Noah is both the metaphorical and leader of the Chicago Bulls for the remainder of the 2013-14 season. Because of this, they are winning. Noah has taken his game to the next level, matching his fostered talent with born perseverance. He is scoring more points, grabbing more rebounds, and assisting his teammates scoring more.

The only people who don’t like Noah now are out of towners. Fans of other NBA franchises who just can’t stand that Noah has just enough skill to back up his mouth. Chicago loves him and likely always will. He is the new A.J Pierzynski, who was the new Jim McMahon, who was the new Norm Van Lier…and the beat goes on.

Noah is everything that is right about pro sports, and he smokes weed. He’s not an arrogant primadonna. He’s not lazy. He’s not soft. He doesn’t negotiate his contract in public. He gives time and money to charity. He constantly thanks and gives props to the fans. You need only have vision to see the effort he gives every season, every game, every play, every minute, every second. Joakim Noah is the heart and soul of the Bulls, but now the talent is matching the will. If those two continue to intersect and correlate with better tangible performances, he’ll be a legend of the game in addition to a legend of the city, which he already is.


by @anarchyroll

I’m a Chicago resident and the Bears are always in the news, mostly because the two baseball teams (Cubs, White Sox) are perpetually in the shitter due to both bad management and even worse scouting.  The basketball team (Bulls) had a historic run for a decade over a decade and a half ago. The hockey team (Blackhawks) finally started acting like a major market franchise when the cheapskate geriatric owner died and his son took over and ipso facto, they’ve won two titles in four years.

The Chicago Bears are the Chicago team. They crammed a century’s worth of success into one season (1985) and that white hot fire has evolved into a searing hot coal of football passion ever since. How else does Ditka still have a job at ESPN after falling asleep on air?  How is Dan Hampton allowed to be an analyst when he clearly has never even taken a community college public speaking class? Why did Walter Payton get a SI cover story in 2011 when he died in 1999? Because the Bears have that aura. They are the original NFL franchise, and are treated as such both locally and nationally.

The items keeping the Bears in the current news cycle is the contract extension of Jay Cutler and the defensive coaching shuffle.  In my opinion, both actions the Bears took are indicators of poor management decisions, that of an organization running on gravitas and reputation rather than intellectual talent and experienced decision makers.

There is NO reason Jay Cutler needed a contract extension for $50 million in guaranteed money.  Not with one playoff win anyway.  Firing defensive coaches after their first season in which four starting defensive players went down with season ending injuries does nothing to make a team better.  Jay Cutler needed to be rented with the franchise tag for one more season, and the defensive position coaches needed to be given a chance to coach all of their players for one full season before being given their walking papers.

The franchise tag is not a cheap option, I’m aware. In fact, it is an expensive option, that is why the concept was agreed to in collective bargaining back in the day.  But Cutler DID NOT and HAS NOT earned $50 million in guaranteed money, yet. He can, I believe he can, he has shown flashes of being able to prove he can, but he is a poster of inconsistency and being injury prone.  Those are not characteristics of someone you give a huge contract extension to, when you have the ability to franchise tag them and make them earn it for another year.

The Bears fans don’t want to rebuild, no Chicago fan ever wants to hear that word.  But if the Bears gave Cutler a year to prove himself of the contract he has just been given, that would have been the last year for a bunch of defensive veterans to know whether they are going to contend for a title in Chicago, or latch on to a contender elsewhere.  The Bears could have drafted a QB this year, made Cutler perform under the franchise tag next year, and by this time in 2015 we would know if he’s our guy or if it is rebuilding time.  Instead we get more high priced instability, let’s hope this gamble pays off.

As for the coaches that got fired. Lance Briggs, Henry Melton, Charles Tillman, Kelvin Hayden, Shea McClellin, and Patrick Mannelly all were injured for part or the bulk of the season. How can you fire coaches based on that? I know the Bears finished the season as one of the worst defensive teams, but that happens when the injury bug bites.  The winning franchises are pictures of stability and the Bears look unstable everywhere except at wide receiver as a team on Soldier Field and an organization at Halas Hall.

But it’s not all doom and gloom, we finished one win short of the playoffs two years in a row. A bummer yes, a sign to blow it all up and start over? No, not yet. Another year, with another coaching staff however means it’s time for the wrecking ball.

@anarchyroll 's sports writing blog

ajclogo1by @anarchyroll

This just in! If you have to have reconstructive surgery on your good knee you won’t be able to play basketball very well for a while.  Derrick Rose and the city of Chicago are finding this out first hand. Adrian Peterson was the exception, not the rule…the freakishly fast healing exception.  I shudder to think what talk radio would be saying if Rose didn’t hit that game winning shot against the Knicks last week.

Rose’s rust is actually a good thing, because it is creating low expectations for the Bulls this season. After the opening night slaughter to the Miami Heat, low expectations is just what the doctor ordered for this team. The Chicago Bulls of 2013-14 have everything needed to win an NBA championship, IF they stay health and their starting five plays up to their potential.  The injury bug biting is out of the organizations circle of influence.  Playing up to potential, well that is the dictionary example of something within the circle of influence.  What does that mean for the Chicago Bulls?

Let’s start with Luol Deng since believe it or not, he is who will determine whether the Bulls win a title this year or not.  How him? Why him? Because he is supposed to be Scottie Pippen to MJ, he is supposed to be Manu Ginobli to Tim Duncan, he is supposed to be Moses Malone to Dr J, he is supposed to be Kevin McHale to Larry Bird. I mean, he’s paid like he is the number two guy. In an era barely a decade ago, he is getting paid number one guy money.

Deng’s salary makes his a poster child of disappointment.  His character, poise, integrity, kindness, humble attitude make him a poster child of how a professional athlete should act. The “nice guys finish last” paradigm first Luol Deng like a glove. He is too soft to be successful the way the Bulls need and have needed him to be successful. He doesn’t have the guts to charge the lane when we need him to, he doesn’t have the heart to make the big shot when D Rose is triple teamed at the end of the game. If he made 1/3 of his salary, Deng would be a Chicago hero due to his attitude and defensive effort, but he doesn’t make Andres Nocioni money.

Can I write a book about how awesome Joakim Noah is?! I just might. But for now all you need to know about Noah is he has been dubbed “The Heart and Soul of the Chicago Bulls”. If he can stay healthy, there’s no punditry needed. He isn’t paid to make jumpers, he earns his check and then some every second he spends in the paint on both sides of the floor.

Jimmy Butler seems to be getting saddled with the expectations Chicago used to have for Luol Deng. Butler is young and will still go through growing pains.  Thibs will whip him into shape defensively, no doubt about that. The question is, can the young fella play up to his potential consistently when the lights are brightest during the three month NBA postseason. That war of attrition can make cowards of the bravest regular season heroes.

Lastly we come to the new Reverend Run himself D Rose.  Mr. Adidas has earned a grace period of sucking it up and being off his game.  The yellow streak that was popping out of the back of all of his clothes last season is faded and forgotten…for now.  Championship or bust is the expectation around the city whether the team, organization, or press want to admit it or not.  Expectations come with the salary and endorsements, much like Luol Deng the fact that Rose is a soft spoken humble fella will buy him plenty of good will but only so much patience in a major market like Chicago.

If the Bulls maintain the status quo on defense, Rose returns to form, Noah does his thing, Butler plays slightly beyond his years, and Deng earns his money in the playoffs there is no one in either conference that the Bulls can’t beat in a seven game serious.  The question is which will be more fragile come playoff time, D Rose’s knee or Luol Deng’s will to win?

@anarchyroll 's sports writing blog

by @anarchyroll

I’m very happy that I picked the Bears with my heart before the season started as opposed to with my head. My head didn’t do me much better since I picked the Atlanta Falcons to go all the way, please if you have a heart, light a candle for Tony Gonzalez, he deserves better.

The Bears are having a good season so far, regardless of what talk radio in Chicago would have you believe. They are tied for first place in their division, and have been since the season started.  Their offense has entered the modern era, and the defense hasn’t skipped a beat after the departures of Lovie Smith and Brian Urlacher.  Devin Hester and the special teams unit have been producing their now expected high quality results.

However there is a sense of doom and gloom beyond the perennially toxic talk radio scene in the Chicagoland area.  The Bears have lost their two starting defensive tackles and their offensive line appears to be regressing enabling Jay Cutler to follow suit. At least Cutler nailed his performance in The League on FXX, and by him, I mean his wife.

But in all seriousness, or as serious as talking about sports in an age of record high poverty and infrastructure crumbling, if the lines on both sides of the ball crumble, the rest of the team will fall like a house of cards.  If that happens, much like Kevin Spacey’s stream show of the same name, the Bears won’t be receiving any awards for their work no matter how hard they try.  Much like the Best Drama Series category, the Bears play in a stacked division which makes the situation worse.

Offense wins games, defense wins championships, and franchises are built from the inside out. Inside out means from the offensive and defensive lines out to the skill positions. The Bears are legit stacked at all of their skill positions. They have a franchise quarterback, two running backs, a tight end setting the league on fire, three reliable wide receivers, an all time great return game, franchise best kicker, pro bowl linebackers, and corners that create turnovers in mass.  All of those are players and franchise qualities the fans of Jacksonville would sacrifice Tim Tebow to the sun god for; but if you’re team is getting dominated in the trenches you don’t have a chance to win the in the NFL.

Steroids can give the appearance of strength, and can satisfy the ego’s thirst of vanity.  But the muscles are just for show and put the test are prone to break and tear. A high powered offense and a defense that scored looks great, fantasy owners can’t snatch up Bears skill players fast enough. But without strength at the line all the Bears will be able to do is score points in the regular season while watching the playoffs from their homes in Florida and Arizona.